Signs of Life


Sam Gagner, at all times a controversial player in Edmonton, has been particularly so this season. The impact of an early-season injury – from the time missed to playing with a full face shield to missed time – seems to have had serious repercussions on his play.

Last night may have been his best game of the season, the first sign that we’re back to watching the old Gagner .

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Against Florida

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The Oilers second line had a pretty good night against the Panthers. Gagner contributed a goal off a lovely Nail Yakupov feed, but more than that the line carried the play against Florida, out-chancing the opposition 6-2 at even-strength.

Five scoring chances came off Gagner’s stick and he was credited with seven shots on the night. Gagner’s only managed to record seven-or-more shots in a game four previous times in his career.

The Trend

The game against Florida has been the highlight of the season for Gagner, but it exemplifies a trend in recent games: he’s been better, even as the team around him has:

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  • First seven games: zero goals, one assist, 12 shots
  • Last four games: one goal, three assists, 17 shots

Even prior to last night’s outing, Gagner has been on the rise, finally rewarding head coach Dallas Eakins’ faith in him after a lengthy slump. He’s shooting more, he’s scoring more and he’s playing better.

Musical Chairs

The obvious downside in Gagner’s resurgence comes at the individual level. Where does Mark Arcobello slot in now? The centre/right-winger isn’t going to supplant first-liner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or specialist Boyd Gordon up the middle. The right wing depth chart (Eberle-Hemsky-Perron) looks pretty tight right now, too. Dallas Eakins has made it clear he wants a “heavy” fourth line, and Arcobello is many things but “heavy” isn’t one of them. Ryan Smyth could be bumped down and Perron returned to left wing, but Smyth’s play has been strong and his skill-set is somewhat unique in the top-nine.

But a personal negative is a team positive. Gagner’s return to top-nine form and strong play from Ryan Smyth give the Oilers the option to move a player out. Maybe that player is Arcobello, who at his current price-point might be attractive to a team in need of scoring. Maybe that player is Hemsky, long the subject of trade rumours, which would allow Arcobello to sub in on that line and take faceoffs for Gagner, too.

Regardless, the music has stopped and 10 people are trying to crowd into nine seats. Right now, Arcobello’s clearly the guy still looking for a place to land.

  • One thing is for certain, if the Oilers can use Arcobelo as a trade piece then they need to play him , knowing Acton won’t go anywhere, I have no idea why the Oilers don’t play Arcobelo to increase his trade value?

    The Oilers need to be tough yes, but playing tough is just as important, Arcobelo plays tough, so this one is a head scratcher and one for the MSM to ask Eakins.

    MSM needs to ask these questions to Eakins.

  • S cottV

    My two cents is that Gagner and his strong play as of late might be the management showcasing him for a deal. Arco is a cheaper option and shown he can fill in at the 2nd line center position. He is dominant on the faceoff dot and he isnt the least but afraid to engage physically with anyone. Yaks chemistry on that line is more with Hemsky then Gagner, Gagner looks extremely slow and kind of dumb next to those two.

    If I were MacT I would be showcasing Gagner to a team in exchange for a defenseman. Gagner and our first could easily net a top two defender, Arco is the smarter choice for his pricetag and quality of play. The fourth line isnt totally useless, Acton is an absolute beast in the faceoff circle. I think they knocked out Kopecky out of the game last night with a hit. Its all coming together now and I honestly think its Gagner who may be the one on his way out of town.

    • A-Mc

      If I were MacT I would be showcasing Gagner to a team in exchange for a defenseman. Gagner and our first could easily net a top two defender

      Out of curiosity i went to and did a quick and dirty scan of all the teams top 2 defensemen in terms of TOI. I know this isn’t definitive by any means, but it was a crude look at what other teams are using.

      The players not listed below were either
      a) Drafted by the team (Clear Majority).
      b) Signed/traded too far back to really be relevant now.

      ** these players are included in the top 2 for each team based on TOI. Sometimes it doesnt make sense re: Tom Gilbert, but i digress. This is a quick and dirty look **

      Acquiring Team / Player Name / Acquisition Details
      Buffalo Christian Ehrhoff 4th round pick

      Calgary Dennis Wideman Jordan Henry + 5th round pick

      Carolina Andrej Sekera Jamie McBain + 2nd round pick

      Chicago Johnny Oduya 2nd round pick

      Colorado Jan Hejda FA

      Colorado Erik Johnson Johnson/McClement + 1st for Shattenkirk, Stewart + 2nd

      Columbus Jack Johnson 1st round pick

      Columbus James Wisniewski 5th round pick

      Florida Brian Campbell Rostislav Olesz

      Florida Tom Gilbert FA

      Minnesota Ryan Suter FA

      New Jersey Marek zidlicky k. Foster, n. Palmieri, S. Veilleux and 2nd and 3rd

      St. Louis Jay Bouwmeester m. Cundari, R. Berra and 1st

      Tampa Matthew Carle FA

      Toronto Cody Franson C. Franson/M. Lombardi for R. Slaney, B. Lebda and 4th

  • camdog

    “Gagner’s return to top-nine form and strong play from Ryan Smyth give the Oilers the option to move a player out. Maybe that player is Arcobello, who at his current price-point might be attractive to a team in need of scoring.”

    So you think the top 9 is going to remain healthy for the remainder of the season? Three games with a healthy forward group is not a reason to start shipping out a depth forward like Arcobello.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I’m of the belief that Arco should be at least on the 4th line. Acton’s bigger but that’s literally the only thing he brings that Arco doesn’t. Isn’t Arco near the team lead in hits?

    Someone up above floated the idea of Arco making passes while Joensuu stands in front of the net (and Gazdic drags his knuckles). With Belov or Schultz Jr out there to bomb some pucks while Joensuu crowds the front, we might even see a goal or two out of the 4th.

    And how about Ference the last couple games? The dude’s vicious, it’s been glorious to watch.

    • A-Mc

      Ference has me peeing in my panties when he does stuff like the last few games. He was my favorite guy over the summer and has re-solidified that view after his latest antics.

      Ference for Mayor!

      I find myself watching calgary games to see if Stempniak remembers how he lost his teeth.

      • RedMan

        two games in a row now, Ferrence has jumped and punched unwilling combatants, wgo didnt even have their gloves off when being punched.

        Its nce that the guy wearing the “C” will do whatever it takes to wake up the rest of the powder puffs, but this could backfire.

        it may, for instance, be an unsuspecting Oiler top six forward like RNH or Gange or Hall who gets grabbed and broken before he eveb gets his gloves off or discovers that he can’t turn down the fight by means of punch to the chicklets when his gloves arent even off.

        • A-Mc

          I would be OK with that. It would even further solidify the team pack mentality, so that the team no longer thinks of reacting, they just DO.

          The possible benefits of Nuge losing his 2 front teeth in a fight he didn’t drop his gloves for:

          1. “Pack Mentality” graduates from a buzz term to a very real mentality

          2. Players are shifted and more size is brought in because it’s no longer “nice to have” but an absolute neccessity.

          3. lil’Nuge would get some sweet coin from the tooth fairy! 8PM bed time! no later =D

          In all seriousness: i’m ok with what you proposed as a possible consequence. At the end of the day if the kids get a little tougher and need to buy new teeth, i’m sure they can afford to do so (on both accounts). They are hockey players, they chose this life.

        • SuntanOil

          For instance, the exact kind of thing that happened to Gagner because Zack Kassian felt free to run around thinking he was safe from retribution?

          I’ll take my chances with the Ference way, thanks.

      • RedMan

        vicious… punching guys who turn down the fight who & dont even have their glves off. he permanently knocked teeh out of another human being… kinda sick given the circumstances.

        who knows who pays for this on the team… maybe one of the pretty, powderpuff top six guys who, when he turns down the fight and tries to skate away, gloves on, has his teeth knocked out with a cheap shot.

        we can call this cheap shot manuever, “an Edmonton” . heres an example of the proper usage:

        “she tried walking away from her husband during the argument, but he would have none of it and nailed her with an ‘Edmonton’ that she never saw coming”


        • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

          All your comments have been complaining about the violence in hockey. Maybe this sport isn’t for you?

          Ference has been sticking up for himself and his teammates after the Oilers were manhandled on a nightly basis for seven years straight. Keep it coming, Ference. You’re a beauty.

          • RedMan

            you mean the “sport” of punching people who turn down the fight, like Ferrence and Burtuzzi? your right that isnt for me. now, the battle of hockey is awesome…

            besides, if it was so proper, why did Ferrence call and apologize the next day?

          • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

            Bertuzzi didn’t break the guy’s neck with a sucker punch, the dog pile afterwards did.

            What Ference did wasn’t pretty, sure. Violence rarely is. But what he’s been bringing the last couple games has been totally absent from this team for far too long.

            And it’s not like he was jumping on a little guy, they were guys his size that he felt needed to be held accountable.

            I guess we’ll agree to disagree.

          • A-Mc

            As a person, you likely feel bad when carrying out certain tasks that must happen in the sport.

            Ference, the hockey player, is doing a fantastic job by setting the expectation that he wont be pushed around.

            Ference, the person, is compassionate and felt bad about the result of his actions on an unwilling opponent.

            The phone call was Ference the person. The fight was Ference the Hockey Player: and this is the half that contributes to a winning team. And It. Was. Awesome.

        • BigRock

          @Jeff in Lethbridge, your attempt to draw an equivalency or exclusivity between Edmonton and domestic violence is odious, lame, uncool and colossally ignorant.

          Nothing humorous about domestic abuse, regardless of your feelings about the Ference punch

  • S cottV

    Ideally you want to have some size in the middle on the 2nd line. Like in the old days with Weight followed out by Arnott. Gagner and Arcobelo are both too small and get out muscled down low in d zone coverage by opposition top 6 with any size. So the longer term solution may be to deal both of them and find a second line centreman that can play heavier in the d zone. This is even more important considering that RNH is pretty soft on this side of things. Will get better as he matures and fills out, but right now the Oilers are vulnerable in the middle, in their own zone – in the first two rotations.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Arcobello: great on the draw, plays positionally well, hits, goes to the tough areas of the ice, reasonable offensive ability for a 2C.

    Gags: terrible on the draw, poor positionally, shys away from tough areas of the ice, good offensive ability for a 2C

    Between the two, Arco is a better 2C on a rebuilding team. Neither is a great 2C on a playoff team.

    I’d keep Arco because he does more. Gags is overpriced. Any return for him would be good in order to dump that contract. This rebuild has polluted his career.

    • Johnnydapunk

      Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of Gagner, I’m guessing his reluctance to get in the dirty areas of the ice is due to him protecting his broken face which makes sense. He will get that aspect of his game back, it just takes time.

      I don’t think you can pick one or the other this year as I’m not sure how Arcobello will do over the full season whereas Gagner will get better the closer he gets to being fully healthy.

      Gags is hardly overpriced if you look at players his age and previous stats, his contract is actually one of the cheaper ones which may be due to his insistence of a NTC which I would hope they would honour.

      I think keeping both of them and perhaps sitting Gags a bit more, like give him more maintenance days and then flip Arcobello in a bit more, but whatever they are doing now seems to be working

      • Admiral Ackbar

        I still disagree.

        My assertion about Gags is based on last year’s performance, his best numbers (larger sample size and he was healthy). He may have produced more points but was obviously still a defensive liability.

        Gags does not play big, Arco does. Gags is terrible on the draw, Arco is. Gags is terrible positionally, Arco is not.

        The only thing Gags has on Arco is a better offensive ability. That’s not enough for success in the playoffs as a 2C.

        I’ll stick to my original thesis. Arco is a more complete player & neither player is a great 2C in the playoffs. Imagine them playing Couture, Carter or Burgeron. Not even a contest. Keep Arco because he brings almost the same effectiveness for a 6th of the price.

        • Johnnydapunk

          Then we can politely agree to disagree as Arcobello has yet to prove himself over a full season and what numbers you put up in the AHL means little in the NHL, Justin Schultz is a good example of that.

          Gagner’s numbers weren’t too bad last year, and like I mentioned before, this year is a difficult one to judge on as he has yet to fully heal.

          As for his contract, it is not much higher or lower than any other player his age, experience and even point totals.

          He put up better numbers than Jaime Benn, Cody Hodgson, Mikko Koivu and surprisingly Malkin last season with comparable +/- so I wouldn’t call him a defensive liability either.

          I don’t really get how you can say that either player would be good or crap in the playoffs as neither have actually played in an NHL series, there is always a surprise in the playoffs and players that you least expect to light it up, catch fire (John Druce comes to mind)

          In the end, whilst Arcobello has so far put up decent numbers, he has still only played 20 games and he may turn out alright, but I will reserve judgement until the season is done.

          And further on comparing players in the playoffs, 2006 had proven that once you get in, anything can happen.

          • camdog

            I always thought Gags best years were when he played with Penner. Penner wasn’t physical, however he knew how to use his body to protect the puck and he was positionally strong. Like all of the Oilers they need to fit with each other. Gags with small wingers is not a fit.

          • Johnnydapunk

            I agree to that. Funny you say that as it seems Penners best years were playing with Gags ( which sounds completely wrong :-p ) as his highest point totals were then.

            I think Gagner will be putting up some decent numbers as the Oil get better and find the balance they don’t currently have.

    • Assessment of Arco based on 20 games. So not reliable.

      Gags is/was slumping. History shows his faceoffs may never be good, but the rest of his game will be competitive at this level.

      Arco is still a total flyer.20 games just isn’t enough to make an accurate call,

      Gags ain’t great, but he’s decent, while Arco is a mystery IMO.

      • Stack Pad Save

        history tells us that Gagner is a career minus 57 … you heard it -57. That is what history tells me. Yah Gagner is good offensively for stretches but it doesn’t last. Plus his offensive side isn’t good enough to make up for his weak play on the draw and on the defensive side of the game.

        I do have to agree that we dont have enough evidence to remove Gagner and replace him with Arcobello. I want a bigger body personally with skill. I think Shawn Matthais off of Florida might be a good option IMNSHO

        • Johnnydapunk

          That’s a very awkward stat to use in the sense that you need to find players who have played for the Oilers at a similar time period to accurately compare. Using a very rough example, Horcoff who played for the Oil for a similar time was -44, Hemsky fared a bit better at -29

          Saying all that Gagner’s point totals were better than both whilst also making less.

          As for Mattias, he has yet to break the 25 point barrier in his career and using the awkward as +/- rating, he is a career -22 on a team that is generally far better defensively than the Oil.

          Looking at the +/- of a lot of players with the Oil over the years, everyone’s was terrible, and it’s less of an indication of an individual players defensive liabilities than a reflection of the teams crap defence which sadly the Oil have had for a while now.

          • Stack Pad Save

            Well this stat and signals of light from when Gagner is on the ice that get sent to my brain, which get interpreted as pictures in my brain, which is than analyzed in my cerebral cortex helps me conclude that Gagner is not good defensively.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    It’s a good problem to have. If you don’t have depth, then you can never trade from a position of strength because you are only trading one problem for another. The mix isn’t where it need to be in the top 9 despite how it’s worked the past few games but having many similar players of quality will make it easier to pull the trigger on a deal eventually. You need value to trade value.

    I love what Arco did to start the season and I am rooting for the guy. Still, if there is interest in him out there, we need to strike while the iron’s hot.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Yesterday on Gregor’s blog he said his house plant was smarter than me and told me to go to bed and read my comics. Tell him at least I can afford comics, and with my 145 IQ and investing acumen, I read and understand a great deal more than the average house plant or piece of dirt like him. That is all for today, I’ve got to go and work on my 3rd mllion!

      • A house plant would have been able to tell the difference between “Jason Gregor” and “random comment guy” (GDB, comment #53 for reference).

        And BTW – A million Baht isn’t a whole lot of money this side of the world.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Dear Wonger,

        What is wrong little fellow , did i hurt your feelings ? Did the truth hurt.
        I am here to partake in hockey talk regarding mostly the Oilers. The Grammar you use is pathetic and very childish like and i could not take
        even looking at your comment’s any longer. From what i read above, you are what i think you are. You are working on your 3rd Million are you ?
        Most people with that type of money don’t comment on it,especially
        on a blog such as this. This is the last time i will spend minutes of my life responding to you that i will never get back. Now go water yourself like a good little house plant.

        Keyboard Clown

        Now , back to the Oilers and Hockey Talk.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    “When you can get a solid defenceman that has the upside that Jeff Woywitka does, you go after him,”

    said Kevin Lowe in a statement released by the Edmonton Oilers.

  • oilerjed

    Enough already with the Acro is better then Gags argument.
    Ill admit Acro is a good player so far, in the 20 NHl games he has played he has 1 goal and he has been good on the dot, but there is NO way that you could realistically say that after this very brief cameo that he has unseated a 7 year Vet who routinely puts up points year after year. His 10 assists look nice but according to most Gags haters out there 2nd assists arent worth anything.
    He has played well enough to get a spot on the Oil, just not Gags spot. I agree with many on the site, play him 4th line center and have him around to move up the line up when the next wave of injuries comes. There is nothing that that Acton is doing that Acro cant do better and faster. Acton is at best a mediocre callup.

  • RedMan

    I like the Oilers lines right now. Eakins has put away the blender. He has shown confidence in the lines and the matchups there up against.

    You all are upset that Arcobello is not playing. How must Ryan Jones be feeling right now? Kicked to the curb once again. Ben Eager? Done as an Oiler. He was given ample opportunity and has probably played his last NHL game. Won’t engage anymore and that is what he was being paid to do.

    The Oilers Acton is step up in terms of a fourth line center. Yet there are better 4th line center out there.

    Bob Stauffer today mentioned Vern Fiddler is available. I would take Fiddler this year. I’d offer him a one year deal if he performed to expectations.

    Boyd Gordon has been a revelation in the aftermath of Belanger.

    The guy for me that I need more from is Jesse Joensuu. I guess what we are seeing is exactly what we should expect to see. I’d like to see him bring the boom more often. He is a big guy he should be more physical.

    MacT has more work to do. He has the following players to deal with in the next little while. He has R Jones. Arcobello. N Shultz. Ben Eager. Anton Lander(Can he step up or should he be offered in any trade package). Jason Labarbera. Ryan Smyth. IB or DD?

    My feeling is that next years squad will have 5 new faces. If this team can finish 20th I would be pleased. 85 points? Growth? I would say yes.

    • camdog

      Fiddler was unhappy playing 4th line minutes in Dallas. Maybe there is more to this, but if he ain’t happy playing 4th line minutes in Dallas I can’t imagine he would be happy playing 4th line minutes in e-town.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Your right. Good point. I guess the question for V. Fiddler is what his expectations are? I don’t think there is a GM out there willing to promise him 2cdd line minutes. His history is not such that he can play those kind of minutes. With Horcoff playing ahead of him in the 3rd line role Fiddler will definitely not be playing 3rd line minutes anytime soon.

        Is there anyone out there who would be more effective in the 4th line role than Acton or Arcobello?
        I guess its a matter of time before MacT decides if Acton is the guy. Or Lander.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Your right. Good point. I guess the question for V. Fiddler is what his expectations are? I don’t think there is a GM out there willing to promise him 2cdd line minutes. His history is not such that he can play those kind of minutes. With Horcoff playing ahead of him in the 3rd line role Fiddler will definitely not be playing 3rd line minutes anytime soon.

        Is there anyone out there who would be more effective in the 4th line role than Acton or Arcobello?
        I guess its a matter of time before MacT decides if Acton is the guy. Or Lander.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    The issue can be framed another way: Arcobello has achieved in 20 games what Gagner is getting to now after 7 seasons. The playmaking, defensive smarts, hitting and hard play that Arcobello has displayed for me overshadow Gagner’s current superiority in finishing – and again that is 7 years NHL experience vs 21 games (total).

    True, Gagner is reputed to be a good leader in the room, but I’ve never heard a coach say Gagner “makes the others better players”. Arcobello isn’t going to fit on the 4th line, and I wouldn’t move Gordon up. So it IS against Gagner, and who would get you more? I think we capitalize on Gagner’s pedigree, to date and he’s the one who gets moved.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Gagner plays like he’s 5’8″ for 4.8 per.

    Arco plays like he’s 5’11” for 600.000 per.

    ….ponders if the blood types match. Maybe we could put Arcos heart inside Gagner……no?

    Bottom line. Arcobello can do what Gagner can do for this hockey club at 1/4 the price. Me thinks Arco is sitting because the Oilers are working on something/deal. Hopefully for Gags so they can put that 4 mill difference to better use. Either would make a decent 3rd line center on a competitive team. Sam has outpriced himself for his usefulness/role. Oil have a mini Horcoff mess on their hands.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          I have MacT’s autograph, gave it to my mom, she loved him back in the day…

          But I agree with you here, tool seems to fit.

          But I have had several beers already…

        • A-Mc

          Nope, I don’t care much for Gagner. I’d be quite happy to trade him.

          But Arcobello was considered an AHL smurf with zero chance of making the team 20 games ago. MacT was crucified for not rushing out and getting some C depth. This blog was filled ad nauseam with people saying the season was lost because we didn’t have any depth up the middle.

          Arco got 10pts in 10games. Since then he has done very little. I like the kid. I hope he gets a shot. I like his 2 way game. If he wasn’t 2 years OLDER than Gagner with SEVEN years less NHL experience it wouldn’t even be a debate on who is more value for their contract.

          But sorry. Using a 20 game flash in the pan from an NHL callup as an excuse to ‘finally trade away that loser Gagner’ is stupid. Black and white stupid.

          If the return on Gagner was good I’d be for it. But it would have nothing to do with Arco being around, and getting him to fill the gap left by gags would be at the least very wreckless.

          I know you think you are very smart and know a lot about hockey. We get it. I mean you’ve probably racked up a few winning seasons on Xbox GM mode right?

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Sam Gagner only had 20 games to his credit after 20 games played as well.

            Todd, are you upset by Arcobellos success, despite his curb appeal?

            Replacing Gags with him is a move in the right direction…

            even at this early time. Addition by subtraction.

          • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

            The prudent move, and IMO the right move is to wait and see. If Arco does it for an entire season, great. Like it or not, you know what Gagner is. You hate him, we get it. But there is no doubt in what he is. The Gagner debate is old. But the body of work is easily enough to know what you have from him.

            But rushing out to replace proven NHL players with flash in the pan AHLers is at best wreckless.

            BTW – when Sam Gagner was 20 games into his career he was 18. And nobody was talking about trading away 7 year vets because he was a sure bet.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            A few definitions for you. Although I’m sure you already know them, since you know IT ALL. And I do mean IT ALL!

            Windbag: an empty, voluble, pretentious talker with little interest to communicate.

            Pretentious: having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or knowledgeable than they really are

            Happy weekend sir.

            *Well I’m off to hopefully watch the Panthers embarrass the Flames.

  • A-Mc

    Which part of the old Gagner is returning to form. The can’t play responsible defense Gagner or the can’t outskate a snail Gagner?
    Meanwhile Arcobello sits. I think the favouritism shown by MacT and Eakins is
    their weakest point. Arco sits while Acton and Gagner are fixtures. I don’t get it.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Its really quite simple.If you have two assets,one you pay 3.5 million and the other you pay 800,000 to provide a sevice to you you have to use the more “experienced” and in this case costly.Mark Arcobello is a fantastic asset and the little big man plays bigger than he is.If you were to play Arco over Gags what value does that give Gagner?Its depth and when an injury occurs we will be in a better spot than we have been in a while.I think we should all appreciate what Arco can bring, but until Gagner goes elsewhere “IT is what it is”.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    When Willis talks about getting back the “old Gagner” I just about lose my cookies. Gagner is not a capable 2C for this hockey club. He is poor on the dot, poor or worse defensively, he has no physicality to his game and is only getting points now because Hemsky and Yakupov have developed some chemistry. Until the Oilers replace Gagner with a prime 2C, they will not win anything. Please remember Gretzky/Messier; Trottier/Goring; Datsyuk/Zetterberg. Teams that have strength down the middle have a chance.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    May I, for the five billionth time, point out that Gagner has a NTC this year and next They couldn’t implement it contractually this year for whatever CBA reason, but it’s a gentleman’s agreement that they will uphold.

    If he is moved this year, we as fans should not only be questioning the competence of this organization’s management even further for conducting business in bad faith but also be furious at the potential repercussions doing this would have within the NHLPA in terms of UFA signings. We have a hard time already, let’s not make it harder than it already is.

    For better or worse, Gagner is here to stay and it is Arcobello who is on the outside looking in. Deal with it.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      It is my understanding that the NTC kicks in next year as he did not qualify due to something or other, age, contract, bad hair…so he can be traded this year. I have heard that MacT verbally said he would not trade him somewhere, do not know if that is true.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        It’s true, he said it was a gentleman’s agreement. I think they should try Gags on the wing for an extended period. Hope he gets back to 100% soon.

        Yak looks like he’s activ- sorry, YAKtivating. He’s found another gear the last few games.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Shhhwing and a miss, again…

      He does not have a binding no trade/movement clause for this year.

      He may have a soft handshake agreement in a sport where a teams needs can turn on a dime/change direction at any time. If it ain’t on paper, it’s not a matter the NHLPA would have any concern about.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Sam Gagner

    11 games played. 1 goal and 4 assists, and -9 during this prolific offensive outburst. Piloted his team to a 4-7 record during his watch. One could argue there’s more value writing off his salary on the IR another 3 weeks.

    If Sam Gagner’s the answer…

    what was the question again?

  • Spoils

    I think most of us realize, regardless of the last 3 wins, which
    make me feel so much better, This team needs some change. I don’t buy
    the comment’s that we played weak teams. We are weak, but better than what we have shown. I tend to side on those in favor of keeping Gagner.
    He came back from this injury too soon to help the team. Yes he will never be that big center we need however, As much as i like Acro, Sam i think
    just brings a little more and always will. Does he not have a NMC or NTC ?

    If we were just a bigger team in general we would have room for both, but we are small. I would take Acro over Acton 6 days a week though.
    Acton has not been terrible but Acro could fill that role with Big Wingers.

    Nice- an entire weekend without the Oil playing ? Do you ever see the Leafs or Habs go an entire weekend without playing ?

  • Spydyr

    Just to put things in perspective Gagner had one point the last ten games last year a second assist at that.At a time when the playoffs were on the line Now he has one goal and and four assists this year.

    He does not play well defensively he does not hit or intimidate he does not win face-offs.He does not win puck battles.

    Still he gets articles like this one saying Gagner’s resurgence. Really he has one goal and five points in his last 21 games. This article makes him look like he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.I just don’t get it.

  • DSF

    Congratulations on the 3 wins. You can start planning the parade. Now you can also start comparing yourselves to the elite teams like the Bruins, Hawks and Blues. After all you have been rebuilding now for some 8 years and were granted 3 overalls by the league for finishing in the sewer the last many years. Look out for the Oilers!! Signs of Life!

  • YFC Prez

    There’s a whole lot of Gagner vs Arcobello talk lately. Before you compare these 2 players take a moment and remember Gagner’s rookie year. It was very good, much better than Arco is showing now. If you want to compare Arco’s rookie performance…compare it to gags. Small sample size on Arco vs Gagner’s history….Gagner win.

    Now the real question is who gets us the big top line forward we need. Last game Matthias and Upshall were Florida’s best players….I want one of those or similar.

      • Depends doesn’t it?

        What if you can switch an Arcobelo for a Shore or a Matthias it’s worth at the very least a discussion as to what Gagner or Arcobelo can give you for a return.

        What if Gagner + insert random trading piece here brings you say Dubinsky? (It’s an example)

        I agree both players need to go if the Oilers are going to get better but it seems to me if the Oilers have half a brain that Gagner has to be considered an asset to trade with.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Neither Arco nor Gags are a great 2C option for a playoff team.

    Arco is significantly cheaper while sacrificing some offence. He’s still better on draws, plays better positionally and hits.

    I’d grade Gags this year before his NTC kicks in.

  • A-Mc

    Boyd Gordon is the prototypical fourth-line centre. He works hard, plays heavy, can play the penalty kill, doesn’t give up anything, and can actually produce on the offensive side of the ledger from that position. Arcobello is a great third-line option at centre — he wins draws, isn’t afraid to hit, makes the players around him better, can play a skill game or a simple game.

    The real issue here is balance — as nice as it is to have the first line powerplay be your top line (ie five forwards) it isn’t practical 5v5 as there is a deficiency on defense there … so naturally, why not take the top nine skilled players on the team and distribute them across the three lines.

    No one else on the squad has any chemistry with Hemsky other than Taylor Hall, so why separate the two — find them a centre; Nuge and Ebs have had amazing chemistry for three years, find them a left winger; Gags and Yak are showing actual chemistry together, so find them a left-wing that can compliment them and assist in their prevalent defensive short-comings.

    Solutions — three scoring lines regardless of who they skate against (play the line opposite the need of the other team’s corresponding counter-part): Hall-Arcobello-Hemsky; Perron-Gagner-Yakupov; (Jones/Omark)-Nuge-Ebs.

    The fourth-line can play more than five minutes a night if it has the right content: Joensuu-Gordon-(Jones/Smyth/Gazdik/Pitlick)

    Four balanced, skilled and PRODUCTIVE lines, there the whole time, send the AHLers back and lets play NHL hockey for once.

  • A-Mc

    It looks like Gagner is now healthy enough to not be a complete liability on the ice at even strength, but even at full health he’s more of a liability than an asset. The question is, in his SEVENTH pro season, can he learn to cover his assignment in the defensive zone and actually make an effort to engage the opposing player either by stick-check or body-check? After six seasons, we’re still waiting.

    You could say that his primary job is to score, but he’s never scored near enough to justify his abysmal defensive play. That $4.8M cap hit looks really high for what is essentially a powerplay specialist.


    Gagner had proven over eight seasons he first have the defensive chops to play centre in the NHL. The Oilers have three choices with Gagner. One, move him to the wing where the defensive responsibility is lower, two, commit to permanently giving his line soft minutes and suffering when they are on the road, or three, trade him and find a more complete replacement. Status quo should not be an option.

    Arcobello is the bridge should the Oilers go with option one or three.